Sleep is essential for both physical and mental health, as it's the time that your body and mind utilize to heal and grow while recharging for the day ahead. Failing to get enough sleep, especially when you have something as important as your physical fitness assessment, can undoubtedly impact your well-being and cause you to experience untold levels of stress, fatigue, weakness and confusion.
Your sleep pattern could make or break your PFA and disrupt your training considerably, so it's vital that you get into the correct sleeping pattern sooner rather than later.
If and when you are accepted into the ADF, you might struggle to get enough sleep during training camp or on duty in long shifts, but there truly is no time like the present to understand and appreciate the importance of a good night's sleep.
Why Is Sleep Important?
Ensuring that you can benefit from enough sleep is essential when aiming to maintain optimal health and well-being. A good night's sleep is just as vital as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet when looking at the grand scheme.
A good night's sleep is an opportunity for your mind and body to recoup and unwind after a long and stressful day of work, training and other activities. Sleep has direct links to several brain functions, including concentration, productivity, and cognition.
If you don't get enough good quality sleep, you run the risk of feeling dazed and drained, drastically impacting your motivation levels and leaving you feeling more uninspired and run down than ever before.
Sleep deprivation can interfere with your body's ability to regulate its food intake correctly, which in turn can cause you to gain weight. This will not be ideal when you are training for your physical fitness assessment, as you need to keep control over your waistline to benefit from the best possible fitness and subsequent assessment results.
How Does Sleep Affect Athletic Performance?
Many physical benefits of sleep can help to promote the best possible athletic performance. Allowing your heart to rest while your cells and tissue can repair during a long, restful night's sleep will certainly help your body recover after any physical exertion.
When you are moving through the different stages of sleep, the changes in your heart rate and breathing can promote improved cardiovascular health, which is vital for those seeking to maintain excellent fitness levels.
While you are sleeping, your body ups its production of what's known as cytokines - these can be described as hormones that help your immune system fight off infections, allowing you to stay in the best possible health throughout your training for the PFA and well into the future.
Other benefits of a good night's sleep for your athletic performance include more energy, better coordination, faster speed, and better mental functioning.
You might think that passing your beep test with flying colours is how hard you train, but that's far from it. You also want to be in a peak mental state to focus on the beeps and not have any soreness in your muscles or delay in your reaction time.
How To Improve Your Sleep Quality and Quantity
Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to promote a good night's sleep that allows you to wake rested and refreshed.
Creating the right environment by using blackout blinds that block any light from entering your bedroom and a comfortable bed set up that boasts supportive pillows and a good mattress will make an enormous difference.
Avoiding any screentime like smartphone or tablet devices for around an hour before you intend on going to sleep can be of benefit too, as the artificial blue light that emits from the screen can actually trick your body and mind into thinking it's still daytime and therefore stop you from drifting off at a reasonable time.
Sleep-inducing relaxation before going to bed can help you put you in the right frame of mind for sleeping, so options such as sleep meditation might be the ideal to improve your sleep quality and quantity.
It's fair to say that you will want to be in the best possible shape when attending your Physical Fitness Assessment. Quality and enough sleep throughout your training program will be crucial to making that happen. Making sure you have a solid sleep routine will give you the best chance of passing your assessment while also preventing or minimizing the effects of performance anxiety at the same time.
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